Dressage Lesson

On Wednesday we had a dressage lesson with the trainer's assistant as the trainer was traveling. I would normally just skip a week, but wanted some expert help regarding which tests to do at the upcoming show. Specifically, we needed help with our never-ending canter issues.

Thankfully it had cooled down quite a bit since the weekend, but it was still warmer than I'd like. Especially for 6:30 in the evening. Nilla and I both finished out the lesson covered in sweat.

I lunged before the trainer got there and then did a bit of walk to halt transition. Once the trainer arrived we rode up to the upper arena and began more intense work. We started by getting bend and getting Nilla on the bit. Then we moved onto trot to halt transitions, which are getting much better as I have been practicing them.

Let's pause to admire how cute this mule is

Nilla still really struggles with not using her neck as a lever in transitions. So we're trying to get her to keep her neck down through transitions. That's still a work in progress. But she is at least actually stopping now and trotting off without actively head slinging.

We moved on to canter and the asst. trainer was trying to get me to ask Nilla to go into canter when her outside hand was hitting the ground. And we kept missing that moment. Not so much because I can't tell when her legs are hitting, but because she isn't that responsive. I ask for cantering and she flails around a bit or takes a few strides to race into it.

Best canter shot of the evening

Nonetheless, we did actually get some good canter work. Well, good for us. Not for normal people with normal horses that can canter. We have gone from not being able to canter at all to able to canter, but completely unable to handle steering or inside leg at the canter.

So Nilla will go into canter, but as soon as I try to balance her and keep her from diving in, she breaks back to trot. I think she mentally can't handle bending and cantering at this point. She can only do one at a time. So the trainer had us canter a few strides and then come back to trot as soon as she got unbalanced, regain the abound at the trot and then ask for canter again.

I think this is a pretty good intermediary exercise. It got her more balanced. However, it doesn't address our inability to make it around a full 20 meter canter circle without breaking. The trainer agreed that Intro C was probably not the best idea.

We finished up by doing a spiral in, spiral out with leg yield exercise. We did this on a circle and asked for canter after moving outwards hoping that the improved bend and shoulder movement might get her cantering more easily. It did not help our canter much, but it was a great exercise for Nilla.

Spiraling out
So I will just be doing Intro A & B this weekend. It's disappointing, but we are progressing even if it is intensely slowly.

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